Labour at war as two more quit

Councillor ORorke, left, with former council leader Jim McCabe.
Councillor ORorke, left, with former council leader Jim McCabe.

A war of words broke out this week after a Motherwell councillor became the latest to quit the Labour Party.

Gary O’Rorke was accused of plotting to overthrow the authority’s leaders, but he in turn accused council leader Jim Logue of forcing him out through “bullying and victimisation”.

Councillor O’Rorke and Wishaw councillor Frank McKay quit North Lanarkshire’s ruling Labour group and will join the growing list of independent members in the council chambers.

The group has been hit by divisions since Councillor Logue took over from Jim McCabe as leader in March.

Four councillors who chaired committees under Councillor McCabe lost their positions under the new leader and quit Labour as a result.

The leadership said this week Councillors O’Rorke and McKay quit before they faced disciplinary proceedings. It was alleged Councillor O’Rorke had been in talks with SNP and independents in a bid to form a coalition against Labour while his colleague was said to have insulted fellow Labour councillors.

However, Councillor O’Rorke, who served as a committee convener under Councillor McCabe, said the disciplinary issue was news to him and he denied plotting against Councillor Logue.

He said he had been targeted for favouring other candidates during the council leadership contest.

Councillor O’Rorke said: “This has not been an easy decision after around 30 years in the Labour Party. Family members were active in the party before me.

“However, the bullying and victimisation has left me with no option.”

Councillor O’Rorke added that he’d also been dismayed by decisions to close Craigneuk Library and introduce charges for personal alarms.

The council leader claimed Councillor O’Rorke had been “undermining” him since he took charge.

Councillor Logue was not concerned by the number of colleagues who have quit this year.

He said: “There’s a trend here of people leaving because they have lost money or status by no longer being a convener.

“The truth is I made changes because some conveners were not up to the mark and I wanted to recognise ability within the group.”

Councillor Logue also said the latest resignations would have “no impact” on Labour’s campaign to hold on to power in North Lanarkshire in next year’s elections.